Roof Snow Removal 101: The Ultimate Guide to Clearing Your Roof

Snow may look pretty while it’s falling, but it can be just as destructive as high winds or flood waters. Allowing snow to accumulate on your roof endangers both your property and your family.

According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, freshly fallen snow can weigh as much as 5 pounds per square foot. An accumulation of 2 feet of fresh snow along with 2 feet of packed snow underneath can weigh up to 60 pounds per square foot.

Clearing snow and ice is important because your roof was never designed to handle the excess weight of significant accumulation. Moreover, accumulated snow can lead to ice dams that could eventually pull down your gutters. Melted snow can even make its way underneath shingles to damage the underlying structure and foundation.

Roof Snow Removal Warning Signs

There are signs you can look for that suggest the snow load on your roof is too high:

• Water spots on your ceilings
• Cracks in your drywall
• Sticking or jamming doors

In a perfect world, you would not wait for such signs to appear. But things happen. If you notice any of these signs in conjunction with heavy snow accumulation on your roof, it may be time to remove the snow.

The Proper Way to Remove Snow from the Roof

The proper way to remove snow from the roof depends on the style of your roof. For pitched roofs, use a plastic snow rake specifically designed for the job. Start at the edge of the roof and work in, being careful not to deliberately scrape clear down to the shingles. On a flat roof, use a plastic snow shovel to throw the snow clear away from the roof.

Salt-free deicing chemicals and electrical deicing cables are another option for roof snow removal. Both can remove snow and ice without the same risk of damage presented by snow rakes and shovels. Whatever you do, never attempt to clear your roof with a heat gun, open flame, or any heavy equipment that could damage shingles or tiles.

Roof Snow Removal Tips

• Never attempt to clear your roof alone. Enlist the assistance of at least one family member or friend capable of acting as an extra set of eyes and a safety monitor.
• If you can access your roof without a ladder – with a long pole, for instance – do so. Otherwise, be very careful about snow and ice buildup on ladder rungs.
• When clearing the roof, be sure to not allow snow and ice to accumulate in the gutters.
• Never throw ice chunks off the roof without knowing what is below.